*This is a guest post by author Vasant Dave who has penned Trade Winds to Meluha*
A lesson in school history book. Pictures of brick walls in Harappa and Mohenjo-daro. Miniature seals depicting bulls with grotesque humps. An undeciphered script. Could anyone create fiction from such inputs?
At least four authors have done so, one in Urdu and three in English.
Mustansar Hussain Tarar, a renowned Urdu author from Pakistan, wrote a well researched novel entitled Bahao in 2004. Meaning ‘Flow’, it won acclaim as an outstanding work of historical fiction in the Urdu language. In an interview, Tarar said that he had carried out linguistic research to discover the rhythm of speech as it was 3,000 years ago. In order to achieve that ‘rhythm’, he used Proto-Dravidian words in specific instances because they were current in the Indus Valley Civilization during the period about which he was writing. Bahao fictionalized the biggest enigma of the Indus Valley Civilization, ‘How did a flourishing culture disappear from the face of the earth?’
Coincidentally, also published that year was an English novel which addressed the same question. Canadian author Eileen Kernaghan, while browsing in a store selling used books, stumbled upon a pamphlet that attempted to decode the inscription on Indus Valley seals. She studied it, did some research, was thrilled to discover a world lost in antiquity and wrote a historical fantasy, Winter in the Plain of Ghosts: A novel of Mohenjo-daro.
According to Kernaghan, “If you travel back far enough in history, you might find sorcerers, baleful spirits, magical kingdoms and spells that actually work.” Her protagonists Rujik and Bima are foster children pampered by villagers because they are chosen to be sacrificed to a goddess.
If Indus Valley was perceived as an occult culture by an author from the West, it appeared mystical to one from India. Initially, Amit Tripathi intended to write ‘a book about the philosophy of evil’, but market realities dictated that he make it ‘thrilling’. Hinduism believes in three primary Gods: the Creator, the Preserver and the Destroyer. Tripathi, terming Shiva as ‘the destroyer of evil’, made Him the protagonist in two novels The Immortals of Meluha (2010) and The Secret of the Nagas (2011).
Tripathi believes that the Indus Valley Civilization was the same as Lord Rama’s kingdom. In the epic Ramayana which is popular in India and several South-East Asian countries, Rama was a prince who spent fourteen years in jungle at his father’s behest. The Hindus consider Rama’s to be the fairest rule ever in the history of the subcontinent.
The fourth author is Yours Sincerely. Trained as an engineer, neither the occult nor the mystical appeared on my radar. Instead, what impressed me when I visited the excavated sites of Lothal and Dholavira was the Indus Valley people’s expertise in town-planning, water conservation and port-management. Then I read about explorer Thor Hyerdahl’s voyage from the erstwhile Mesopotamia to the Indus Valley. And that threw up a plot that had exploits, love and conflict among people of the two diverse cultures. Trade winds to Meluhha was conceived.
However, from the renewed interest in the ancient culture witnessed on electronic platforms such as Harappa.com, and in cultural events such as Indus Heritage Day, Trade winds to Meluhha would not be the last word in fiction based on the Indus Valley Civilization.
Trade winds to Meluhha by Vasant Davé is available as e-Book in various formats from the following web-sites:
FaceBook page of the novel
Trade winds to Meluhha is a story of murder, rape, intrigue, bloodlust, and religious piety, set in the Bronze Age. This work of speculative fiction follows the adventures of a Sumerian youth as he journeys through the ancient Indus Valley Civilization. Based on the latest research, it offers the reader a sense of what the complex interpersonal and intercultural links must have been like during the Bronze Age.
Vasant Davé was born and schooled in East Africa. He passed Bachelor of Engineering from the University of Bombay and served for 24 years in companies manufacturing electrical and electronic capital goods. For another 8 years, he took up industrial market reasearch contracts from consultants based in Singapore and Hong Kong. He conducted face-to-face and telephonic surveys in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh for multinational end-users such as Siemens, BASF, Henkel, Dow Chemical, AkzoNobel and Linde. After retirement in 2008, he has focused on his interests in writing fiction, traveling and outdoor photography. Trade winds to Meluhha is his first novel.